Supermarket Chains Ecology Question 10

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Does the brand have a policy to increase the use of sustainable soy in the animal feed for its chicken and pork meat products, in order to fight e.g. the destruction of tropical forest?

Dutch version: Heeft de supermarkt een beleid om voor haar vleesproducten verantwoorde soja te gebruiken in het kippen- en varkensvoer, om zo onder meer de vernietiging van tropische bossen door sojateelt tegen te gaan?

German version: Setzt der Markenhersteller Massnahmen um, um Soja aus nachhaltigem Anbau - z.B. zum Schutz tropischer Wälder - als Tierfutter zur Herstellung der Eigenmarkenprodukte aus Hühner- oder Schweinefleisch zu nutzen?


The soybean (U.S.) or soya bean (UK) is a primary, low-cost, source of protein for animal feeds and men. Soy can produce at least twice as much protein per acre than any other major vegetable or grain crop. Soy is used in a wide range of foods as sold by supermarkets. But even a bigger share of soy goes into the meat assortment, as soy is a major source for cattle feed. For the Netherlands, see e.g. the Soy Barometer 2009 report summary.

Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, FairFood and the World Wildlife Fund, have reported that soybean cultivation and the probability of increased soybean cultivation in Brazil destroys huge areas of Amazon rainforest. There are also problems with the working conditions in the sector. To address (part of) the issues, there are several certification and quality systems in place, listed by FairFood.

To address these problems on the mainstream level, major players in the soy industry have started the The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), an international multi-stakeholder initiative founded in 2006 that promotes the use and growth of responsible production of soy, through the commitment of the main stakeholders of the soy value chain and through a global standard for responsible production.

At time of writing, the RTRS standard is in development. The draft versions of the standard are facing opposition, as deforestation is still allowed according to the interpretation of e.g. Friends of the Earth. Having said this, RTRS is a mainstream initiative towards responsible soy. The support from supermarkets should be awarded.

Alber Heijn shows the best practice among Dutch supermarkets, as brand owner Ahold is member of the RTRS. For Albert Heijn the focus is on animal feed, especially for pork and chicken. No further targets to source a certain percentage of sustainable soy before a certain year are mentioned yet.

A 'yes' may also be awarded to brands that have a similar policy and objectives, but refer to other standards as listed by FairFood.